Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND
Here’s the latest update from the Sugar Labs@NDSU Team:
Applied for Google RISE Award
We applied for this award very recently and we hope to use the funds to further our mission in the community:
>>>Hire another student for curriculum development
>>>Hire another student for software development
>>>Create and implement a portable server not only for increased reliability, but also for students to share their work in a central location for the community to see, as well as for our team to start making home visits, assisting issues with access and technical difficulties
Tech Team at Madison & Developing the After-School Curriculum
For the last seven weeks or so, we have consistently conducted our Tech Team meetings at Madison Elementary School, where we have a consistent group of 11-12 children between 3rd-5th grades. The kids have been great, producing some really interesting materials in Sugar activities, such as Etoys, TamTamJam, and Turtle Art.
In this time, we have also been updating our after-school curriculum on the Syllabus page. Last week, which was our week 6, we worked in Turtle Art with the Tech Team. We originally modeled our plan around the classic shapes challenge exercise from Barry Newell’s Turtle Confusion, but the kids ignored these shapes on the first page, and, instead, flipped it over to what was supposed to be the following weeks activity.
One of our Sugar Team members, Jade Sandbulte, drew a simple landscape scene with grass, a house, tree and sun, which caught the attention of our tech teamers. Even though we gave them the drawing and the blocks to produce it, there was plenty of issues to debug in the translation between what information was available to them, and what blocks were needed to complete the picture. In these debugging, “404 moments”, we saw kids working together to figure out how to “code” the production of their picture. Even two of our third graders paired up together, learning small steps toward procedural literacy, e.g. where the “start fill” and “end fill” blocks need to be in the order of the “program” for it to work properly. Overall, it was a very exciting time for everyone there, and when I asked the tech team to shut down Sugar, more than a few responded by saying, “But I haven’t finished yet!”.
Next week, we are inviting parents to the meeting, enabling us to start establishing more of a connection with them throughout the remainder of the school year. This connection to the students’ home is very important to our goals toward a smarter computer literacy, because we have learned that access to technology is not always about whether or not someone owns or actually has the potential to use it. We’ve encountered issues surrounding parents with password protected computers, older siblings who won’t let younger siblings on the computer, as well as not being able to boot the Sugar on a Stick at home. One of the crucial steps toward growing as an initiative is the portable server and home visits. These components should help us develop and enact the childrens access and literacy dynamic.
More to come…